Offense?

An interesting thing happened on the way to church yesterday.  (Don’t worry, I didn’t violate the social distancing or the stay at home – I went from the kitchen to the living room).

On the way, something changed.   I didn’t know it because our Pastor hadn’t shared it yet.   But as he started getting into his sermon, suddenly it hit me.   In previous weeks, most of the sermons I’ve heard (and from well beyond our church – podcasts) have focused on providing comfort and care in very hard times.   I get that and I need that – just ask my wife and my counselor.

What changed?  The message that was delivered had a much more blended purpose.   Now if you ask me, most of the time when you blend two flavors together, both of them lose some of what they were.   Strawberry and Banana Yogurt,  coffee with cream, chocolate and peanut butter (well, maybe if it’s Trader Joes Dark Chocolate Peanut Butter cups it doesn’t).  

Pastor Darrell’s message was Trader Joe’s Dark Peanut Butter Cups.  It was both.  Both comfort and challenge.   Both a reassurance that God’s bigger than this along with a challenge to be God’s hands and feet to the hurting.

The message yesterday was focusing on two main things:

  • How do we make it through this difficult time

AND

  • How do we go about making this less painful for others, less stressful for others?  How do we go about making this an opportunity to show God’s love even when we are in the basement with the blinds shut?  In other words, how do we go on offense?

Pastor Darrell had 10 points to his sermon, I’m not going to go over all of them.  That’s too long to do in one blog post.   But I do think I will share more of my thoughts on them in separate blog posts later.

And Then…..

I was reading the Bible in my personal devotions and came to Psalm 1:6 which says:

Psalm 1:6 (The Message) God charts the road you take.

Raise your hand if  on April 20, 2020 the road you’re on is where you thought you’d be……

Yeah, I’m not raising my hand either.

But that’s okay, because God charts the road you take.

And the road I take my neighbor takes, or your neighbor, or the guy who walks down your street.

God charts the road YOU take.

So, in spite of all of the bad news, in spite of all of the unknown…..

GOD charts the road you take.

And that makes all the difference in the world.  In this world, and in His world.

Remember that.

TV

P.S.  There’s only one time I can remember ever personally being involved in a protest and that involved Teddy Bears, a coup in Haiti and a Senate Briefing room in Washington.   A story for another day.

But I do want to say that a well focused, well organized, coherent strategy and message is a very advantageous to the cause that you might be protesting for.  If you question that, read “Letters from a Birmingham Jail” by Dr. Martin Luther King Jr. sometime.  I did and it was an awesome opportunity to see more of the “people” and not just the “public figures” in the Civil Rights movement

I am a firm believer in the First Amendment and my ability to write whatever I want on here.   But I also believe that when you show up to a protest about pandemics, viruses, hospital supplies, staff and keeping everyone safe – even those with compromised health prior to this – and you do so carrying rifles and waiving confederate flags – you aren’t really showing up to protest Gov. Whitmer’s “stay home rules.” 

Be nice to everyone you meet today (from at least 6 feet away).  We could all use a little extra kindness in our days during all of this.

TV (again)

Isolation 2.10

Why 2.10? Because today is the 10th day since my youngest and I moved into my in-laws place while they are still down in Florida.

10 Days and we are still speaking to each other – and mostly in nice tones too!

10 Days and we have both learned more about how to give each other space – not only social distancing space but emotional space when needed and the opposite.

Social Media – it helps those you want to be with, to be here. It helps bring connections closer that might have drifted apart otherwise.

Social Distancing – becomes a little more real when you hear that someone who lives about 3-4 miles away from where you are currently living died of the virus earlier today. It’s here. It’s here now.

Wondering – what’s going to happen to the economy, what’s going to happen to the kids and school? How is the online school going to work? One of my kids did online schooling for a couple of years – a very good thing for the right people with the right teachers. As a former substitute teacher who at one point thought he was going to be a teacher, I want to stand and wish all of our teacher’s all of God’s blessings as they attempt to take their class and make a 90 degree turn in very little time.

Amazement – since I was dating this cute girl in high school who was going to be a nurse, I’ve always known that nurses and doctors are amazing people. I think we’ve all seen what an amazing group of people the doctors, nurses, RTs, NP’s, PA’s and RDCS’s are abd it’s not just one “group” of them – all the way up and down the line from the doctors and administrators to the kitchen and environmental services people. They all are amazing on a daily basis but they think they are just doing their jobs. I remember one time my wife said to someone, “Yeah, I take care of babies at the hospital.” That in itself is a true statement. What that doesn’t tell you is that her average patient weighs oh maybe 2 lbs when they first come to the Neo Natal ICU.

As I’ve told you, I have my own health challenges that would make it foolhardy to volunteer to help on the front lines. But there are so many people all around us who are just quietly stepping up and doing their job. Doing it faster and harder and longer because we can see need. In the earthquake a decade ago in Haiti, the heroes were doctors and nurses and excavators and search and rescue teams and ambulance drivers and helicopter pilots. This CoronaVirus has the ambulance drivers and doctors and nurses and grocery truck drivers and shelf stackers and the list could go on and on and on.

Yeah, it’s Isolation 2.10 and the governor of Michigan just extended the isolation to April 30. I hate to say it, but I think we all know it won’t be over by then.

There are times in the isolation that it feels like I’m not really doing anything to help. But then I remember what at least one of the medical people at the press conferences said, “If you go home and sit on your couch and watch Netflix and nothing happens, we won!” By staying at home, by wearing the mask that kind of makes your ears look bigger, you keep the virus from getting you and from giving it to how many others, that is doing something to help.

So, go watch Netflix. Tomorrow is Easter, and I’m going to predict that more people will go to church on Easter than have in many years. And they won’t even leave their living rooms. The churches are doing a wonderful job of transitioning from doing church inside a building to doing church via video and social distancing. The church is so much bigger than a building.

If you want some recommendations of websites to check out for church, left me know.

Are we isolated? Yes. Other than the one time my 27 year old brought groceries over and i was on the other side of the garage, I can’t remember any other time where I talked to anyone in person. Online or on the phone (yes, some people still actually use them as phones) conversations have skyrocketed. It makes you think about what the world is going to be like when this is all done. I’ll be writing more about that later, but I think it’s safe to say we are not going back to business as usual.

More later, have a good night and a Blessed Easter,

Tom

P.S. In light of this isolation – a challenge for all of us – what kind of a difference would it make if we all reached out to someone we know who might be struggling, might be lonely, someone who could use a little cheering up and called them, zoom’d them, FaceTime’d them, text’d them, FB’d them, well you get the picture. Take a few minutes and reach out to someone who might be lonely.

Are We?

“You’re not at all like the wicked, who are mere windblown dust— Without defense in court, unfit company for innocent people.”

‭‭Psalm‬ ‭1:4-5‬ ‭MSG‬‬
https://www.bible.com/97/psa.1.4-5.msg

Okay, I want to take a look at this a minute (or maybe a few minutes). What’s God saying in this section?

• He is say that you are not liked the wicked. And then he gives some very grim explanations of what is going to happen to the wicked.

◦ Mere wind blown dust. When I was a kid growing up, we lived 4 houses away from some real good really deep farm land. When the wind blew in the wrong direction, we had to hurry up and scramble and get all of the windows closed so the “muck” didn’t blow in the house. What happens is this tiny dust? It get squeezed and blown around and it gets everywhere. On window ledges, on shelves, on tile floors, on kitchen counters, in bathrooms, on pillow cases, on computers, on phones, everywhere. This fine black annoying dust spreads everywhere and because of that texture, it is so difficult to get rid of.

◦ Without defense in court? Oliver Wendell Holmes is the first to say it, “A man who is his own attorney has a fool for a client.” In other words, if there is ever a reason for an attorney, a wise man will hire one and the wicked will say, “Nah, I can handle it.” And that’s foolish.

◦ The wicked – unfit company for the innocent people. This says two things:

‣ The wicked are unfit company for the innocent people. That’s fairly obvious. The drug dealer and the IRS cheats should not be the ones that the innocent people hang around.

‣ Not only are they unfit but the innocent are supposed to know better and avoid those type of situations where they would find themselves hanging out with the wicked.

• But now wait a minute – avoid the wicked people? Isn’t that exactly the opposite of what Jesus tells us to do? He has dinner with tax frauds and prostiutes, isn’t that the company that God says is unfit for us?

How do we reconcile those two? The ability reach out to those who need God’s help through us and the ability to at the same time not get sucked into their world of wickedness? That’s a hard one. And it’s one that we need to wrestle with more.

But as you go out into the world, whether you go out to care for the sick, or you go out to spread some cheer to families who need it, or you stay home to care for those God has placed in your care. A paraphrased edition of Pastor Darrell’s blessing…..

“God woke you up today. He didn’t have to, but he did.

“God didn’t bring you to church, but he said, “you all are my people where ever you are.”

“God sent you home. He sent you to the hospital, the delivery truck, the warehouse sorting boxes of “essentials.”

“God sent you to the research labs and the doctor’s offices. God sent you to the fire departments.

“God didn’t send you anywhere, he sent you home. Home, because there are kids who need a parent so the other parent can go be a first responder.

God woke you up today. He woke me up today. What are we going to do with that gift?

TJV

Isolation 2.06 – Pushing Back Against “More”

Day 6 of Isolation 2.0

More confusion

More frustration

More positive tests

Higher mortality rate

And what can we do?

Well, if you’re like me and don’t have a formal medical education, there’s really only four things that I know you can do:

Stay home – you’re familiar with the concept of a designated driver? At our house, we have a designated shopper. Our grocery stores offer preferred shopping hours for medical professionals (which she is) so she is our designated shopper. No one else goes shopping unless you can do it online.

Keep your distance. If you are out and around and find yourself in a place where it might not be possible to be 6 ft away at all times, wear a mask. I actually have two different styles because the one style makes my ears stick out. :-). No, I am not going to post pictures.

Support the front line people – there was a story of someone who stood outside the local hospital and held up a sign, “My heroes wear scrubs.” According to her (and my) Dr., Dr. Singer, she had a stroke and they got her in in time to save her from permanent damage.

Send donuts to your kids doctor’s office.

Have Starbucks deliver to the local pediatric floor at “your” hospital.

Reach out and talk to someone – someone lonely, someone who you haven’t talked with for a while. If everyone spent a half hour a day talking to others that would make a big difference.

There’s a lot of feelings of helplessness. I know, I feel it too. But look at some of these and ask yourself, what am I going to do?

It might be something small but it could save a life or it could be the blessing that a front line worker needs to keep going.

Try it, you’ll like it! (Hey Mikey!)

TJV